You could spend months discovering Jerusalem Old City treasures (- and we have!). But since your time is probably limited, we've put together a list of our 10 favorite Jerusalem Old City sites not to miss when you tour Jerusalem.
Of course, these are in addition to the absolute must-see sites: the Western Wall, the Holy Sepulcher and the Temple Mount.
Here, you'll find a short description the sites. Click on the site name to find out more about it.
And be sure to check at the bottom of this page for our bonus sites, too.
Just inside Jaffa Gate, the Tower of David Museum walks you through 4000 years of ancient Jerusalem Old City history and there’s a great view of the city from the tower.
To the left of the Western Wall, tour the tunnels along the foundations of the First and Second Temples.
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation has just opened the Generations Center in the tunnels, a sound and light show based around glass sculptures that tell the story of Jerusalem.
Reservations required: Call 1-599-515-888 (in Israel) or 972-2-627-1333 (from outside Israel).
Hours: Sun-Thu: 08:00-20:00
Admission: 20 NIS adults; 10 NIS children/students/seniors: 10 NIS
To the right of the Western Wall Plaza are the archaeological excavations at the foot of the Temple Mount.
Stunning finds are being made there during each excavation season. (See read more about Biblical archaeology in this general area, here.)
You can visit on your own,
or make arrangements for a guided tour in English if you call ahead.This is one place where a tour guide can really bring things alive for you.
Hours: Sun-Thu: 08:00-17:00 Fri: 08:00-14:00
Admission: 30 NIS adults; 16 NIS children/seniors/students
2 Tiferet Israel St, in the Jewish Quarter
Visit the remains of a priestly home that was destroyed when Jerusalem fell in the year 70 CE. The sound and light show makes the fall of Jerusalem chillingly real.
Hours: Sun-Thu: 09:00-17:00 Fri: 09:00-13:00
Admission: 25 NIS adults; 12 NIS children
Corner of Bonei Hahoma and Plugat Hakotel streets.
This is a very kid-friendly museum. The center has a model of Jerusalem in the first-temple period, interactive activities for kids that focus on ancient life, and a very clever audiovisual show.
Hours: Sun-Thu: 09:00-16:00
Admission: 18 NIS adults; 14 NIS children
Old City Tour
Dead Sea Day Tour
1 Hakarim St.
This was a priestly home during the days of the Second Temple. Behind the modern facade, you can see ritual baths, frescoes and get an idea of what daily life was like.
Hours: Sun-Thu: 09:00-17:00 Fri: 09:00-13:00
Admission: 15 NIS adults; 7 NIS children
19 Misgav Ladakh St.
The museum houses reproductions of the implements used in the service of the Temple and of priestly vestments. There is also a model of what the Temple looked like.
Hours: Sun-Thu: 09:00-17:00 Fri: 09:00-12:00
Admission: 20 NIS adults; 15 NIS children
If you enter the old city through Jaffa Gate, you can do a self-guided walk on the ramparts of the old city. There are informational plaques in English every several hundred feet to give you an idea of what you are seeing. The views of both the old city and the city outside the walls are magnificent. One path goes from Jaffa Gate to Dung Gate and the other from Jaffa Gate to Lions Gate.
What we now call the Jerusalem Old City was the thriving metropolis Aelia Capitolina during the Roman and Byzantine period. The Cardo was the commercial center of that ancient city. Ancient columns and shops are visible. The roofed part, reconstructed in Crusader times, now houses boutiques and archaeological sites side-by-side.
Start in the Jewish Quarter. The Cardo leads to the Arab shuk.
In the Cardo
For a change of pace, step out of ancient history into the modern era. This moving photo exhibit documents the last days of the Jewish Quarter before the Jerusalem Old City fell at the hands of the Jordanians in 1948.
Hours: Sun-Thur: 10:00-15:00; Fri and holiday eves: 9:00-13:00.
Old City @ Night
Our bonus suggestions continue your journey back in time, to a period when the biblical town lay outside the Jerusalem Old City walls we see today.
Just outside the Old City. Go out Dung Gate and turn left. Make a right on Maalot Ir David Street and you'll find one of Jerusalem's most impressive sites.
If it wasn't technically outside the Old City, we'd have put it at the very top of this list. In other words - don't miss it! This is the original Jerusalem old city, dating to long before the Old City we know today.
At the City of David, you can go down Warren’s Shaft and wade through Hezekiah’s Tunnels. The tunnel ends up in the Shiloah Pool. This is a great activity to do with older kids and teenagers.
You'll also step back in time, visiting what may be King David's palace, the palace of Queen Helen and Roman mansions, through some of the most active and fruitful archaeological sites in the world.
This site is simply awe-inspiring all year around. Wading through the tunnel, however, is activity is best done in the spring, summer or fall - the water is freezing cold in the winter.
TIP: Make sure to bring
the appropriate gear for Hezekiah's Tunnel.
For a fascinating hike through ancient Jerusalem history, take the Jerusalem Trail mp3 tour (4-6 hours) which takes you around the outside walls of the old city, the Ben-Hinnom Valley, the pool of Siloam, the City of David, Absalom’s tomb, the Kidron Valley, and on to Mt. Scopus.
This is more of an arduous hike than the previous mp3 tours, so come prepared with sun hats and lots of water.